Photos: Your Treasured Possession or a Forgotten One?

According to the Save Your Photos website, “The Save Your Photos initiative is a public service outreach campaign developed by The Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO) to teach individuals how they can preserve life’s irreplaceable photos, videos and documents, in case of unforeseen accident or disaster.” As a member of this organization and a Personal Photo Organizer, it is my goal to help everyone I can to protect their personal history.

Whether you make preserving your photos a priority in your life or not, the fact is that your photos are truly your most treasured possessions; a concept you most likely won’t fully grasp until you’ve lost them. Sadly, like most people, you probably procrastinate and get too busy to follow through on your best intentions to get your print photos scanned and all your photos safely backed up. We’ve all heard stories about people devastated at having lost their family photos from the last 100 years, the only picture of “Uncle Bob” that was in existence or all the photos on their mobile phone or computer. I just read a story yesterday about a woman who mourned the loss of her photos when her mobile phone exploded. (Thankfully, she wasn’t hurt.) Did she mention losing documents she had on the phone? Or contacts? Or music? No. She mentioned pictures because those are what mattered to her most–as she came to realize too late. She discovered this the hard way by not having a good backup plan in place.

Do you have your print photos scanned? If not, why not? What excuses have you made to yourself for not getting it done? If you were to lose all your photos tomorrow, would those excuses look extremely lame? I’m guessing yes.

Let’s take a closer look at the two most common excuses.

Not enough time. Sounds like maybe an attitude adjustment is needed. (And I say this with the kindest intentions.) We’re all busy. I get that. Our society is built on busy to the extreme. But you really can’t carve out an hour or two a week to purge duplicate or bad photos from your albums and boxes? Slimming down your photo collection is a lot easier than slimming down your waist line! Boom! There’s a better way to look at getting started on your collection.

Or perhaps you have people trying to steal your time to do things you don’t want to do. Now you just tell them you have a previous commitment and you can’t commit to them. You don’t have to tell them your commitment is to a dusty, old shoebox of century old photos or baby albums of your kids that you’ll be crying over for hours about how adorable they “used” to be.

Everyone can find an hour or two a week to get this project started. It’s committing to doing it that’s difficult. You only need apply the same attitude to this as you do to driving your kids to their “whatever” practice or your attending a weekly yoga class. So just resolve to give it a try this week. Commit to getting the photos out and spending just one hour purging. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done. And if you have kids that are old enough to help, make them help. It’s a great way to teach them about family responsibility (or payback for you carting them around everywhere) and family history at the same time.

Once you purge your photos, you can start organizing them by themes, people, events, years, etc. The way to look at this is to think of how you would organize them on your computer. Each category is essentially a “file folder” that can also have subfolders. For example, the top level could be by year “1935” or decade “1930s” and subcategories could be “Grandma and Grandpa Jones,” “Aunt Lucy” and “Mom.” Once they’re organized on a high level, they’re ready to be scanned.

If you commit to two hours a week, you could have a medium-sized collection done in a month or less. Of course, this depends on the type of collection you have and whether you concentrate on the matter at hand or you frequently wander off to the land of reminiscing. So keep the reminiscing to a minimum. Once you’re done, you can reminisce all you want.

And if these suggestions aren’t enough to move you to act, then maybe this will: If you lose your collection to a natural disaster, accident or environmental damage, then this “time” issue you’re struggling with will be instantly resolved for you. No photos, no need to make time to get them scanned and preserved. Boom! Problem solved. However, future generations that have little or no family pictures or history will lament the loss of getting to know, learn from and love those that came before them because no one took the time to preserve their family identity and heritage. Please don’t let this happen to your family.

Too expensive. Depending on the size of your collection, cost could be a concern for you. Scanning isn’t super cheap, but it isn’t super expensive either. I can tell you without reservation that the amount you spend on frivolous things in your life are far more expensive and less meaningful than the amount you’d spend preserving your family history and memories.

For example, a $4.00 Starbucks drink could buy you 10-20 scanned photos. A $20 dinner could get you 50-100 scanned photos.( The scan prices are based on 20 and 40 cents a scan and are for illustrative purposes only.) If you buy drinks, breakfast, lunch and/or dinner every day or several days a week, multiplied by two if your spouse does the same, then you could have your whole photo collection scanned “for free” by temporarily moving your eating out funds to the photo scanning project.

While the drinks or meals are satisfying and delicious in the moment, nothing lasting comes from them. But investing in getting your photos scanned and preserved is something that lasts a long time. Conceivably for a lifetime. Now that’s lasting!! That’s a legacy from which you and future generations can benefit.

You might use your extra income for other things instead of eating out such as clothes, shoes, hobbies, music collection, etc. Almost all of us can find extra cash for the things we want. It just sometimes involves making temporary sacrifices.

So the question becomes, “Do you want to be a part of creating something great that will impact you and future generations in amazing and positive ways, or simply enjoying living in the moment instead?” Only you can decide.

And if finances are beyond tight, you can always get small batches of your photos scanned at a time. You don’t have to do them all at once. The goal is for you to get them scanned and backed up as soon as possible.

Now it’s time to Take the Pledge to save your photos! Go to and sign up. You’ll get daily tips and help throughout the month of September to motivate and educate you on your journey to saving your photos.

If you’ve found this article helpful, please share it with your friends.

If you’re interested in learning more about photo scanning and organizing, preservation products and ideas, visit

To catch up on the photo tips for September, visit my Shoebox Photo Scans Facebook page.



ORGANIZING YOUR DIGITAL VACATION PHOTOS SERIES–STEP 4: The Best Kept Secret to Organized Photos Revealed

Welcome back again for what is the final step in this series. It’s the one I’ve been most excited to share with you. It’s the step that brings everything together. It’s the step that creates the results you’ve hung in here for: To find what you want when you want it; to have an organized vacation folder, not chaos.

I want to apologize for the delay in getting this step out to you. I wanted to try a new, more visual way to convey the information to you. As it turns out, I’m not able to do it on this platform at the moment. So I’ll have to take you through the steps using screenshots instead.

Going back in time a bit, you created a folder structure in Step 1 for your vacation pictures. We’re going to build on that now with filenames. And if you thought you’d have to rename each file one by one or else keep them as they are, a meaningless set of letters and numbers, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. You’ll have your photos renamed faster than you ever thought possible. Dare I say, it will be a mind-blowing experience!

Renaming your files means you can:

  • Have your files super organized in short order
  • Find any file you want in a matter of seconds
  • Share photos with meaningful filenames for which your friends and family will love you
  • Create photo books, photo gifts and collages, as well as select your best photos for getting prints made quickly so you don’t miss a fantastic 2-day sale
  • Create and share online photo albums and slide shows with ease
  • And so much more

Continue reading ORGANIZING YOUR DIGITAL VACATION PHOTOS SERIES–STEP 4: The Best Kept Secret to Organized Photos Revealed

OneDrive User? Take Action Now or Risk Losing Your Photos

If you use OneDrive for automatic backups for photos and documents, you better move fast to clean up your files. Per Microsoft, come July 13, the storage limit is reduced from 15 GB to only 5 GB. If you don’t reduce your storage size to under the new limit, your account will become read only. They say you can still access your files, but no more uploading until you get the file size under the 5 GB.

This new limit can put your automatic photo backups at risk.

You have three options to keep your photos safe from loss:

  • Download your photos/files to your computer or external hard drive, and then delete the files in OneDrive to free up space;
  • Pay for additional storage space; or
  • Leave your photos/files there (you have one year to remove them or the content may be deleted) and set up a different auto backup system for your photos, such as Google Photos, which offers an unlimited storage option.

It is getting increasingly difficult to keep up with all the technology anymore. Companies are always changing something: storage limits, storage options, restrictions and even doing away with a favorite application or site. We either adapt or risk losing important parts of our history.

So if you’re a OneDrive user, get to it!


How do you use and manage your photos?

Your opinion matters.

Managing our digital photos, along with our printed photos, is getting increasingly difficult! The number of photos we take is staggering compared to even 5 years ago.

I’d like to hear from you about how you deal with your photos and what you’d like to do differently with them.

Please complete the survey, How We Use & Manage Our Photos. I value your opinion. It won’t take long to complete and it will help me better help others, maybe even you someday!!

Responses are completely anonymous so no worries there.

Please share this with your friends, family, blog and social media followers, etc., so they can put in their 2 cents worth. Have fun with it! And thanks for helping!

Organizing Your Digital Vacation Photos Series-Step 3: Master the Art of Eliminating Picture Clutter

Hello! Glad to see that you’re back and ready to continue with this next step.

To recap, let’s look at what you’ve accomplished so far:

  • Created your working folder structure that will help keep you organized for many years to come.
  • Gathered your devices, copied the photos into a temporary folder and backed it up so the originals are safely tucked away for the short term (in case of any boo boos).
  • You also deleted the photos from your device(s) so you have lots of space again to take more photos!

Wow, that’s a lot. Give yourself a hug for sticking with it. You’ve accomplished what most people don’t even attempt: creating a great foundation for organizing success. You’re on your way to eliminating stress and confusion so you can enjoy your photos the way you want. Kiss guilt and anxiety goodbye!!

So let’s get started. You’ll find this part of the series to be very freeing.

Copy Files to Your Vacation Folder

In Step 1, you set up a 2016 Vacation folder, or whatever else you named it. Mine is named “2016-03 Viking River Cruise.”

Simply COPY the files from your “temporary folder” into the Vacations folder. This is where you’ll do the rest of your organizing.

The “temporary folder,” as previously mentioned, will be there in case you accidentally delete some photos you want to get back (even though you could also retrieve them from the “Trash”). I just find it quicker and easier to grab a file from there versus getting it from the “Trash.” It is also great to have if you want or need to start over during the file renaming step of this series.

Now you’re ready to eliminate picture clutter.

What is Picture Clutter?

It’s what you end up with when you store every photo you’ve ever taken without being selective with them. Do you really need five pictures of a landscape that are nearly identical? A picture of your shoes? Thirty pictures of the same people at the same birthday party? Or a shot of something you have no idea what it is?  The answer is No! Continue reading Organizing Your Digital Vacation Photos Series-Step 3: Master the Art of Eliminating Picture Clutter

Organizing Your Digital Vacation Photos Series-Step 2: Gather, Transfer, Back Up

Welcome back. To start off, I want to share some background about the picture in this post. It is from an amazing winery in the Alsace region of France I had the privilege of visiting while on my Viking river cruise down the Rhine. The owners were very welcoming and shared interesting facts about the history of French winemaking and of their winery. And, of course, the wine was fantastic! I adored that part of France and hope to go back there someday. If you get the chance to visit France, I highly recommend including the Alsace region in your itinerary.

So back to the business at hand, I hope you got a chance to create and play around with your folder structure from Step 1 so it makes sense to you. We all don’t think the same way or organize our life or house the same way. So why should organizing your picture folders be any different? And just a reminder, if you don’t like the way yours is set up, you can always change it later.

If you’re good to go on your folders, let’s get started on Step 2: Gathering, transferring and backing up your digital pictures! Continue reading Organizing Your Digital Vacation Photos Series-Step 2: Gather, Transfer, Back Up

Organizing Your Digital Vacation Photos Series: Step 1 (3 Steps to Creating Powerful, Searchable Folders)


Today you’ll begin a journey that will change your life. This statement might seem a bit bold, but if you’re drowning in photos and the stress of it all has you teetering on the brink of photo insanity, then it is a very accurate statement.  Disorganized photos can make you feel overwhelmed, confused, stressed, anxious, and even inadequate because you can’t keep up with it all. Today is the day all those feelings can stop.

I like to keep things simple. So don’t worry about it being too complicated. I like to find ways to get the job done right using the least amount of effort. Who doesn’t want that, right? Discovering how to do that might take a little time, but in the long run it really pays off. I can then accomplish what I want with the least amount of time, effort and financial investment.

What you’ll learn here is how I and many other photo organizers organize their own photos and that of their clients. How we do it right with the least amount of effort and time. So don’t get stressed out thinking about all you have to do to get them organized.

Follow this series and only concentrate on the one step I’m covering at that time. Don’t think about what’s ahead. Don’t look behind. The mess you have now is irrelevant. It’s manageable. With each step it’s evolving into photo nirvana.

Let’s get started!

Create New Folders

Creating new folders seems like a simple enough task. You’ve created hundreds of folders over the years either on your personal computer or at work. And it is a simple act to create a folder. However, the trick to a great folder structure is knowing what to name your folders and files so they make sense now and in the future for you–or anyone else that might need to retrieve some photos from your files.

Continue reading Organizing Your Digital Vacation Photos Series: Step 1 (3 Steps to Creating Powerful, Searchable Folders)

Organizing Your Digital Vacation Photos Series: Intro

Returning from Vacation is Hard. But Viewing Your Photos is Fun!

Welcome! If you’re reading this, it means you have vacation or another group of photos you’re ready to get organized. Or perhaps you’ll be vacationing soon and want to prepare for getting them organized upon your return home. Either way, you’re in store for viewing your captured memories and getting them organized at the same time. Now that’s a time saver!

This series will focus on using a personal computer to organize photos. It’s impossible to do much organizing on small devices such as phones and tablets. Many of these devices will automatically create a timeline by date or location (if you have the Location setting on) for easy viewing, but the long, nondescript filename assigned automatically does little to help you find the picture you want a few years from now, whether it be on your device or computer or in cloud storage. Plus, your device can only hold so many photos and then you need to delete or move them elsewhere. If you don’t transfer them, you just end up with a digital graveyard full of photos surely to be lost or damaged at some point. If you’ve ever Continue reading Organizing Your Digital Vacation Photos Series: Intro

Do You Hoard Photos? And It’s Stressing You Out?

I wanted to share with you today a little more about my upcoming “How to Organize Your Digital Vacation Photos” (or any other group of photos) series. But I know that anxiety can be a huge issue to overcome when you first think about organizing your photos. So let’s address this issue first.

Now who isn’t a bit anxious thinking about the cluttered mass of photos we’ve accumulated? Most of us have more photos than we know what to do with. That kind of makes us photo hoarders. I don’t mean to be cruel or judgmental, but, hey, let’s face facts: if you just accumulate photos and seldom do anything with them (besides a quick share on social media), yet you have a sense of comfort in knowing they’re there, then you’re a hoarder. Acceptance is the first step to recovery. Or as I like to think, the first step to “Motivation.” Motivation will be key to getting your photos organized.

For example, we all love to eat, right? I know I do. Too much. But who enjoys cleaning up the kitchen after the meal? Not many of us but we do it anyway. And we love to go on vacation, but how long do walk around the suitcases until we finally put them away? It could be days or weeks (as you secretly hope you can simply repack them for another trip. Problem solved). But if the reality is that another trip is not in store soon, then you get up the energy to store them away.

I know I don’t like doing the “after” stuff. A sister of mine does though. I find that odd. She must have inherited the “clean gene” or figured out that taking care of things right away results in less anxiety for her. For me, the “after” stuff is seriously nothing short of boring and painful. I was born with the “fun gene.” Fun motivates me! But sometimes we just have to get the tough jobs done.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’m simply short on motivation. If you weren’t born with the “clean gene” either, then you struggle like I do getting the boring stuff done. I really enjoy taking photos (like I enjoy eating a meal). It’s fun. But the “cleaning” and organizing part (like cleaning up after the meal) can be a chore sometimes. Just as there are quicker ways to clean up the kitchen if you learn a few “tricks,” so can it be with managing photos.

But first we need to know what’s causing our anxiety or lack of motivation that makes us photo hoarders. Is it lack of time? Knowledge? Fear of making a mistake? No clue how to get started? It’s really not that fun to organize? Regardless of the reason, once you know the cause (and accept it as an issue to be resolved) you can move forward to overcome it. That’s where the motivators come in.

So what would motivate you to invest the time to organize your photos? For me, it’s being able to find the photo I need quickly. It frustrates me to have to search forever and sometimes never find what I’m looking for. For you, it might be:

  • the same thing so you can easily create photo books or gifts on the fly;
  • putting together a last minute video for someone’s birthday party, anniversary, graduation or wedding without the stress of downloading from the cloud or transferring from your devices the photos you need;
  • you enjoy sharing your photos a lot and you’d like the recipients to know what the photo is about. Is 20160703_123456.jpg really helpful?
  • you need to get the photos off your device because the “low memory” message is preventing you from taking or storing more photos;
  • you don’t want to lose your photos! You want them off your devices and backed up in a safe place for now and future generations to enjoy—and make sense of.

After all this, we can conclude that hoarding pictures on all your devices and having no organization to them can cause incredible anxiety and frustration. But you already knew that, didn’t you? Every time you take a picture you are confronted with the fact that you’re adding to the problem that already overwhelms you. And not addressing it prevents you from more fully enjoying the photos the way you’d like.

If being a photo hoarder stresses you out, and you’ve discovered what will motivate you to finally get your photos under control, then you’ll want to make time to follow this series. One thing you’ll learn is how to purge and when to purge your photos to nip those anxious feelings in the bud. How great will it be to quickly reduce the clutter in your collection to a manageable number? Isn’t it a chore to clean out your closet of clothes you’ll never wear again that are just taking up space? But the end result is freeing and satisfying! There’s so much more room now. And the pole or shelves won’t fall down…again (Hint: that’s a motivator). Purging your collection of really bad or irrelevant photos will give you that same sense of freedom and satisfaction.

You’ll soon be able to enjoy your photos in new and exciting ways because everything you need will be at your fingertips and quick to find. You’ll be free to get creative with them! Now that’s fun. And you’ll know that they’re safe from loss or damage. And those are great motivators.

Follow me on Facebook for additional information and tips.

Anyone have a photo hoarding story they’d like to share? What are your biggest challenges in managing your photos?

Vacation Photos: Easy Digital Organizing Anyone Can Do

Vacation season is here. Need help organizing your vacation photos (or any group of photos)? As promised in my Facebook post, you can journey with me and geVacation Photos Series Coming Soont your photos organized in no time as I walk you through how I am organizing thousands of digital photos from my recent Viking river cruise. I’ll also be sharing some trade secrets we photo organizers use to create and maintain an organized digital photo collection—with ease. Stay tuned for a start date and more details of what you’ll be learning and doing. Know others who need help with an out-of-control digital photo collection? Invite them to journey with you. It’s going to be fun!

Preserve Your Memories Forever and For Others

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